Nadya Teresa Okamoto
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Nadya Teresa Okamoto is a new candidate this year.
Nadya Okamoto is a first-time candidate for Cambridge City Council. She is dedicated to preserving and promoting economic diversity across Cambridge. Her top three priorities are (1) housing affordability; (2) education equity; and (3) progress towards more sustainable living. Nadya, by far, is the most well-equipped candidate to push forward more community-minded university relations in regards to all aspects of her progressive platform. Read on to learn more about her platform, and her goals for campaign finance reform, civic engagement, and arts and community in Cambridge.
Nadya has a successful and extensive background in nonprofit management. She is the Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD (period.org) -- an NGO that provides necessary menstrual products at no cost and celebrates menstrual health through service, education, and advocacy. The organization has distributed enough period products to those in need to address over 150,000 periods, and registered over 110 campus chapters at universities and high schools around the US and abroad. Nadya founded the organization after her family experienced living without a home of their own.
Nadya’s experience as a young entrepreneur has taught her how to advocate, organize, and empower others through service -- she has the skills and passion to serve Cambridge and advocate for all Cambridge constituents. If elected, Nadya will be a strong voice for community diversity, the youth demographic, and anyone who struggles with housing stability; she pledges to speak for those who haven’t had a seat at the table before.
Nadya’s Top Priorities:
Nadya on Housing Affordability: Preserving Economic Diversity
Education Equity - supporting ALL students
From her own student experience and from the many CRLS students she has talked to, she knows that access to internet is important for education equity, and thus supports exploring potential municipal broadband. Nadya will tirelessly fight for universal access to early education (pre-K) that is affordable and accessible for all families and for more arts to be offered both in and out of the classroom in summer and afterschool programs.
Regardless of what socioeconomic background a student comes from, what their level of learning is, or what their personal academic interests might be -- Nadya believes Cambridge should be working to meet students and Cambridge youth where they are and provide them with both educational and economic opportunities to discover and reach their full potential. Nadya knows that schools should be a place for learning and so much more -- she hopes to work with the School Committee and community partners to ensure that students are staying healthy (expanding access to food and mental health support), active, and ready to keep learning.
Nadya hopes to implement a platform (both digital and physical) to provide live updates to constituents about what Cambridge City Council is working on, when residents can expect changes around their neighborhood, and easily-understandable ways to provide feedback and suggestions to councilors. She believes something like this is needed to ensure that residents are heard, and to hold councilors accountable for the promises they make to the community.
There are over 110,000 people living in Cambridge. Over 70,000 are registered to vote, yet less than 17% actually vote. Nadya is committed to getting more people out to vote on November 7th. Through months of engaging with voters and encouraging civic participation, she led her team to register hundreds of new young voters. Nadya believes that since Cambridge City Councilors represent the entire community, the entire council should commit to increasing voter turnout.
Nadya believes that City Council meetings should be made more available to all residents, which means hosting them around the city and making them more accessible to residents both in terms of location and timing. She also will bring her skills of digital communication and social media to make the video footage and live updates more readily available to residents who might not be able to join in-person. She thinks digital communication tools are a great opportunity to engage real-time input from residents during and after City Council meetings.
Nadya believes that civic engagement will improve as Cambridge faces campaign finance reform (which she will fight heavily for) towards public financing.
Campaign Finance Reform
Nadya supports public financing of municipal campaigns in Cambridge because she believes that candidates and elected officials should spend as much time as they can listening and serving, rather than fundraising -- she also believes that by eliminating the massive amounts of money that can be spent on campaigns, civic participation will be more economically diverse amongst residents. Nadya would also like to see limits on the amount of special interest or development dollars candidates can accept, and limits on how much they can both fundraise and self-fund for campaign purposes as well.
First and foremost, Nadya is excited to keep pushing for universities to meet more of the demand for graduate student housing. She was so excited to see that the petition (she also signed) was passed for more graduate student housing to be built alongside the MIT Volpe development. Nadya believes university students can be playing a more active role in bringing tutoring and college counseling services, public service events, and other academic opportunities directly to Cambridge youth -- Cambridge City Council can be an integral liaison to making these partnerships possible. The universities themselves can also create more educational, internship, and employment opportunities for cambridge students and residents. With the world’s most well-endowed institutions right here in Cambridge, there is no excuse -- Cambridge needs a force like Nadya to cultivate these community-minded university relations.
Arts and Community
Nadya’s passion for the arts comes from a very personal place. She grew up in a family that was very arts-focused -- her mother is a writer and her father was a painter turned ice sculptor. Nadya has been dancing since she was two-years-old. She danced pre-professional ballet throughout her teen years and continues to dance on Harvard’s competitive hip hop team. Just like Cambridge was a constant in Nadya’s life while growing up with significant instability -- dance, singing, music, and writing were also constants in Nadya’s life. These creative outlets helped her and her family heal from trauma and cope during times of uncertainty.
One of the things that makes Cambridge unique is the vibrant community. Nadya hopes to promote more public celebrations that celebrate this special community. Her favorite event is currently the City Dance Party, and she hopes to see more events like this in the future.
Nadya Okamoto Announces Candidacy for Cambridge City Council
Mar 29, 2017 – Nadya Okamoto, a 19-year-old nonprofit director and global advocate for youth empowerment and gender equality, officially launched her campaign for Cambridge City Council early this morning. Okamoto announced her candidacy in a video discussing her background, commitment to Cambridge, and key issues addressed in her progressive campaign platform.
“Right now, Cambridge as a city needs to highlight and implement specific solutions for affordable housing, economic opportunity, and education equity,” says Okamoto. She announced that her run for City Council is for:
Nadya is the Founder and Executive Director of PERIOD, a global organization providing and celebrating menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service. She founded the organization when she was just 16-years-old after her family experienced living without a home of their own. Since its founding in 2014, the organization has addressed almost 80,000 periods, reaching student advocates at over 65 campuses, and engaging over 5 million people in the message of normalizing periods.
With her background in grassroots organizing, activism, and community capacity building -- and her personal connection to the key issues many underserved Cantabrigians face every day, Okamoto will bring a much needed, complementary perspective to City Council. “Whether it be fighting for affordable housing, educational equity, worker’s rights, or our environment, I’ll be right there with you as one of your city councillors, acting as a megaphone for all Cambridge residents,” says Okamoto.
Nadya Okamoto, a first-year student at Harvard College, is working with a full-time campaign team of young people eager to engage Cambridge voters -- and not just student voters. Okamoto says that this campaign is bigger than her and her team -- and hopes the initiative will also spur other young people across the United States to have confidence in the value of their voices and necessity of their civic leadership. While Nadya is excited by the unexpected national and international media attention she has already received and opportunity to model civic leadership for youth, she emphasizes that her campaign intends to win and above all to bring attention to long-standing issues that demand greater participation and innovative solutions.
“I do what I do because my purpose is to love and build community while uplifting others, and reconcile the privilege, voice, and passion that I have to serve and make a difference wherever I am and with whatever I have.”
To learn more about Nadya and her platform, visit www.votenadya.com.
CCTV candidate video (2017)
|Page last updated Wednesday, November 1, 2017 10:34 AM||Cambridge Candidates|